Noon Light

Sun is at its maximum power during noon, also it is in its highest position for the day. The result is very harsh light, increased contrast, very saturated colours and unattractive shadows.

noon light
Photo By I Am Not I

It is a very difficult time to get amazing photographs, mainly due to the shadows. In the case of landscape photography, midday sun causes no modelling effect on landscape feature and as a result the scene looks very flat and lifeless. Also the contrast between the light and dark areas will be huge so that it falls way outside of your digital sensor۪s dynamic range.

In case of portrait photography harsh midday sunlight causes ugly shadows below the eyes and chins of the subjects and even worse makes them squint.

How to Photograph during Noon

Although we have classified noon time as being not ideal for photography, the harsh quality of the noon light is actually suited for some special purposes like fashion photography. Using the right equipments and techniques amazing images could be captured even during noon.

noon light
Photo By Pierofix

Clouds

The best you could hope for during midday is to have some clouds in the sky that could cover the sun. When this happen, the clouds acts as giant diffusers producing light whose quality could not be mimicked by any other light source on earth. If there are clouds and if you see them moving so that it could cover the sun, then it is worth waiting a hour or two for that to happen, it could soften the light, revive the colours and make your photos turn out much sharper.

Composition

When faced with a high contrast scene, you are left with two options, either sacrifice details in bright areas or sacrifice details in dark areas. Most often photographers choose one or the other depending upon their requirements. But there is one alternative to it, compose your photo so either excluding the dark area or excluding the bright area. If not completely, exclude only the darkest (e.g. shade on foreground) or the brightest part (e.g. skies) from the scene and you will be able to get it within your digital camera sensor۪s dynamic range.

Reduce Contrast

If crop composition does not do the trick or if it is not possible you have a second option that is to actually reduce the amount of contrast in the scene. This could be achieved in three ways.

a. Diffuse light – if the subject you are shooting is not very large (architecture) then place diffusion panels in between the subject and sunlight so as to soften the light. If you are shooting landscapes or architecture your only option is to hope for natural diffusion in the form of clouds.

b. Reflect light – reflectors are ideal to use as fill light sources to lighten up dark areas in your frame, thus reducing contrast ratio.

c. Fill dark areas with light – you could use either flash units or strobes as fill light sources to lighten up the shadows if using reflectors is not practical.

d. Use filters filters open a range of choices to deal with harsh light. Polarizing filters could be used to take off reflection and bring in detail to the sky, they also take up a couple of stops of light. Neutral density filters could be used to reduce light across the frame, facilitating the use of larger apertures. Graduated Neutral Density filters could help balance the contrast between the bright and dark areas in the scene.

In the next article we will discuss about Photography – Types of Light – Evening Light

Learn Good Photography Tips

  1. Daylight
  2. Morning Light
  3. Natural Light
  4. Polarizing Filter
  5. Graduated Neutral Density Filter